by Kirsten Walsh
I had done a few portraits for family, and they always said “ Oh you should do this, you’re so gifted”, not something I have ever really understood or been very comfortable with. I certainly didn’t think I could make a living from—no way.
1100cmx800cm, Grey lead and charcoal pencil on Fabriano Cold pressed
I think as an artist you have a way of looking at things and seeing color and light perhaps differently. You don’t even see yourself they way others see you, I think I struggled with this self-criticism for many years. Not good enough perhaps, not up to the standard that I see as outstanding. It’s that high expectation of your own work, it must be perfect, that you analyse everything you do so much. I still do to some degree, but I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and be more proud of my skills the last few years.
When I picked up pencils again after a very, very long break I was so nervous to start. It took me almost 3 weeks I think to finish that drawing back then. Three years ago. Fair enough it had been about 15 years, I felt like I was starting again. I had only what I remembered, no clue on papers, pencil pressure or other things like blenders and solvents. What were these! So I decided to teach myself again.
14x11inch, Polychromos on Strathmore bristol plate 500 series
I spent hours on YouTube and Facebook just watching other artists work. How things had changed, just being able to study what other artists did fascinate me. How awesome is this I thought. I knew I could do this too, I never had any doubt, I just had to get started and draw something. I still say the same thing to my daughters, you just need to keep at it, see what you can find and study it, and then give it a go.
I did my first pet portrait for a family cousin. It went well, I was happy with the finished piece, she loved it, so I shared it on social media, and then more people loved it! Things just grew from there.
Over the next couple of years I continued to keep up the drawings, I invested in my time and work, I promoted myself through social media and had opportunities to share my work in the local paper and in other competitions. All awhile each commissioned drawing I finished would attract more inquiries. How lucky am I!!
When I discovered my most admired artist, CJ Hendry, I was in awe of the scale and precision of her work. It was not like anything I had seen before, alongside her attitude toward the art industry. After spending two years building and improving my animal drawings into a successful business, which I still love, it was time to test my skills and do something new.
14x17inch, Polychromos and Luminance on Strathmore 500 series plate
I was invited to participate in a curated local art exhibition, it would be in an amazing space and have a really cool vibe, and hundreds were expected to attend. This piece needed to be bold and have a wow factor. Perfect timing! I did the piece, it was big, it was bold, it was beautiful and mostly though it was for me pivotal moment in my journey of the last 3 years. How far you can go if you put your heart into something, what can be achieved and how much your skills can grow and develop. Proudly the show was a huge success and my piece sold shortly after.
“Saltwater Gypsy” is the result of years of learning, hours of drawing and the belief in being able to do it. Drawing again has given me so much more than just a new career, to anyone starting out; I would just say keep going. It’s so much more than art.
Kirsten works as a full time artist specializing mostly in pets, wildlife and people. She has studied Art in various capacities but is mostly self-taught in the medium of color pencil. Her work has been published and won awards since going professional 3 years ago. She lives in Victoria, Australia with her 2 gorgeous daughters; husband Brad and two staffies Boofa and Murph, and Ragdoll Winston.
See more at: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenWalshFineArt/